Official faces expulsion over forged passports

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Micheál Martin is expected to recommend the expulsion of an Israeli embassy official over the use of forged Irish passports in an assassination in Dubai.

Mr Martin confirmed yesterday that he would be bringing “proposals” to Cabinet shortly on how to deal with the issue.

He would not spell out what these proposals were, but a department source subsequently confirmed that the expulsion of an official from the Israeli embassy in Dublin was on the cards.

Six forged Irish passports were used by suspects believed to have been involved with the killing of Hamas chief Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai in January.

Similarly, four forged Australian and 12 forged British passports were used in the assassination, and both countries have already expelled Israeli officials, having concluded that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, was responsible for the killing.

Mr Martin has received reports from the passport unit within his own department and the Garda Commissioner on the incident.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “I do intend to bring proposals to Government in relation to the appropriate action that we deign to be necessary in response to that situation.”

But the minister stressed his desire to “draw clear separation” between the passport issue and the flotilla raid this week.

As a result, it may be the week after next before Mr Martin brings the proposals on the passport issue to Cabinet for approval.

“There was no way I was going to announce the action on Monday or Tuesday in the light of what transpired in relation to the flotilla,” Mr Martin said, adding that he didn’t want the Government’s stance on the passport issue to get “completely lost” amid the controversy over the raid.

While the Garda investigation pointed the finger of blame at Israel for using the forged passports in the killing, it found no substantive proof and could not identify those involved.

But gardaí in their report agree with claims by Britain and Australia, whose passports were also faked in the assassination plot, that Israel is to blame.

No gardaí were sent to Dubai to investigate the matter. However, officers did track the travel routes of the original Irish passport holders to examine where documents details may have been copied.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said: “The Government will soon decide what action to take on the issue of the use of forged Irish passports in the assassination of Mr al Mabhouh in Dubai. The Government is anxious this important matter be given the attention and focus it merits and does not become mixed up with events off the coast of Gaza.”

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